Just one of Laetitia Soulier's works.

Hood Downtown Opens This Friday


Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Susan B. Apel

A look behind the scenes at the art installation in progress . . .

The opening of Hood Downtown is, finally, within reach. Its inaugural exhibition, Laetitia Soulier: The Fractal Architectures, will be on view from September 16 through December 11, 2016. The public is invited to a reception on Friday, September 16 at 7:00 p.m. at this brand-new venue at 53 Main Street in Hanover NH. Excitement is building among the museum staff, the Upper Valley arts community, and everyone who has been watching the construction of the gallery while strolling past it on Main Street this summer.

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Soulier works from her studio in Brooklyn, by way of Bordeaux and Paris. She builds model rooms to scale--very intricate--and then poses the human form, in whole on in part, in front of, beside, under or behind the model. Then she photographs them. The art that you will see at the Hood Downtown exhibition are those photographs, as well as some of the reconstructed models.

Two works are in place; others are stacked against the wall and waiting.

There will be commentary in the near future about the opening itself  in which I will tell you how beautiful and smart and sumptuous is Soulier's work. But today I had a different perspective, witnessing the installation in progress. The behind-the-scenes peek included some of the striking works of art in reds or greens hung on just-painted white walls, power tools scattered throughout; one piece of wallpaper has been hung, another waits its turn, curled on the floor. A scaled model of a room is half-finished. Soulier had gone to find more plants to accent its tiny spaces.

The team, including Patrick Dunfey, Director of Exhibitions (center) and artist Laetitia Soulier (right), ponder.

The artist and a team of five exhibition preparators (it's a term of art) have spent the last week getting ready for the opening. There is the actual placement of the photographs and artworks in the space. The team devotes itself to making sure that the components are shown in a coherent and meaningful way. But there's much more--lighting that requires experimenting, and lettering that benefits from just the right choice. Not to mention the production of brochures and advertising and making sure no detail is missed before the opening moment.

Soulier retrieved bricks from the old Hood Museum construction site for incorporation into the new exhibition at Hood Downtown.

During the installation, the shades have been pulled down over the gallery's windows. Once the exhibition is up, however, you will be able to amble by on Main Street and get a quick glance that might pull you through the entrance. The hours have been stenciled by the door: Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m and Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The gallery will be closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays but will not be dark. John Stomberg, director of the Hood Museum, says that closing to the public for these two days each week will help the Hood retain its commitment to Dartmouth students and to area school children who will be visiting the exhibitions then. 

Nothing left overlooked. Gardener Gail Nickerson of Goffstown NH waters the window box of the Hood Downtown. Nickerson had just finished a morning's work of design and planting.

The opening of the Hood Downtown is a significant event that is part of Stomberg's vision, ensuring that the Hood remains a vital part of art and culture in the Upper Valley, even as the museum is closed for three years for renovation of its current space. An art gallery on Main Street--with evening hours--is a welcome addition.

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A quick and unrelated, yet artistic note: If music is what you are craving, you can catch Cecylia Barczyk on cello and her daughter, Elizabeth Borowsky, on piano at two separate events. And soon. The first is a concert from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Thursday, September 15 at the rotunda at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and the second is part of the Vaughn Recital Series, scheduled for Sunday, September 18 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the Faulkner Recital Hall, Hopkins Center. Both events are free.

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